Friday, 25 November 2011

Is Conflict resolution in Sales managers' skillset? Can we learn from HR and their work in it?

The Stages to Follow for Successful Conflict Resolution
Thinking - Feeling - Saying - Doing

It is very common for salespeople working in their sales role to face conflict as part of their job. It makes sense therefore that the more customers ( internal and external) that you work with and the busier that your schedule becomes, the higher the frequency of challenging  people and situations that you will face.

a) Think of Michael Winner and “Keep Calm dear!  Michael Winner calm Down dear esure insurance mashup remix( “ Control your emotions and remain calm. You win more with honey than vinegar !

b) Show empathy and/or apologise( if appropriate) ' feel their pain' in order to diffuse client hostility or frustration.

c) Say it right. Appreciate their concern and your desire to better understand and resolve the matter. Thank them for drawing the matter to your attention. Let them know of your desire to resolve the issue. Ask them if they would be willing to discuss it further and provide you with details regarding the situation.

d) Sensitively ask for an explanation, work towards gaining their perspective, feelings about the situation and the facts regarding the issue. Use open-ended questions ( who , what, when, where and how) to get them to open up and provide as much detail as possible.
e) Listen actively. Paraphrase (rather than echo the client’s words), confirm, expand, acknowledge and gain a full understanding.

Also pay attention, use your observation ‘radar’ skills to read between the lines and pick up on hidden meanings and innuendo and body language tells.
f) Isolate the problem(s), ask if there is anything else. Repeat the process outlined above until you have all the concerns, emotions, perspectives and facts out in the open.
g) Summarise  your understanding of what you have learned. Separate the root cause of conflict when secondary issues are present. Secondary matters will often automatically be resolved by rectifying the root cause. Check to ensure that you have clearly understood the matter and that you are on the same page as the customer.

h) If there is a legitimate, justifiable explanation then offer the explanation, answer, address .Do not make excuses, direct blame or deflect responsibility.

Ask for acceptance or acknowledgement of your explanation and whether or not this resolves the matter. Sometimes when you talk it out with people in this manner they realise that it isn't as bad as they initially thought  or that they had some degree of fault in the situation. Once you have explained, confirm that the matter is resolved to the customer's satisfaction or closed.

i) If you are unable to resolve up to this point, then ask, within reason, what they would like to have done to resolve the matter. Gain a very clear understanding of what they are asking for before agreeing to anything.

j . 1. Resolve the conflict if the client request is reasonable or acceptable. You may still have to apply some negotiation skills to ensure that you don't leave the door open for them exploit further..
2. Negotiate if possible, if necessary or if you are able to. This would apply if the client is asking for more than what is considered to be reasonable or acceptable.
3. Bow out gracefully if necessary.
For many salespeople and sales managers, resolving conflict doesn't come naturally, it is something that they need to work at.

Good News :
There are specialists to hand both as mediation trainers and HR to help you.  I am grateful to Panos Papakostis (TCM Group) for news from the Personnel Today awards this week at London's Hilton Hotel.
 Minister for Employment Relations the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP. presented a major new award celebrating mediation success yesterday 23rd November 2011 at the event.

·         East Sussex County Council –  were the winners of the inaugural award for Innovation in Dispute resolution . Congratulations

This year’s  Personnel Today Awards, featuring the best HR teams of the year, were hosted at the Hilton Hotel in central London on the 23rd of November 2011. Amongst the awards was  the inaugural

 ‘Innovation in Dispute Resolution’ Award,

sponsored by The TCM Group, was presented by the Minister for Employment Relations, the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP.
( TCM Group are a specialist private sector provider of mediation and dispute resolution services. I visited the TCM stand in October this year at the HR Performance 2011 Show at Olympia see link at end of this post.)
The award was presented to the HR team that most clearly demonstrated innovation in this area.
Dispute resolution is an HR issue of growing importance as is evidenced by the Government's recent consultation on workplace disputes.
During his speech, Ed Davey commented on the way UK businesses can change their working culture by using mediation. Ed Davey mentioned that he is delighted that David Liddle and the mediation experts from The TCM Group have had the foresight for creating and sponsoring this exciting new award.
The HR teams shortlisted for this year’s award were:
·         East Sussex County Council

·         Foreign and Commonwealth Office
·         Metropolitan Police Service
·         East Lancashire Primary Care Trust
·         Surrey Country Council

The panel of judges was looking for examples of innovative practices such as:
 establishing internal mediation schemes,
 training HR teams to act as mediators and peacemakers
training and supporting line managers to resolve disputes,
 and encouraging early dispute resolution within and across teams.

They evaluated the efforts taken by all the team entrants to develop and embed a system for resolving workplace disputes, grievances and complaints and decided that the 2011 ‘Innovation in Dispute Resolution Award’ winner is East Sussex County Council.
David Liddle, TCM’s Founder and Director commented:
“I would like to congratulate East Sussex County Council for winning this prestigious and coveted award. I admire their creativity and commitment and I celebrate the positive impact that mediation has had across their organization, as it has across so many other organisations across the UK. I would also like to thank the Rt Hon. Edward Davey MP for presenting the award and for the Government’s increasing support for mediation”
Panos  at TCM advised me also  of the   Launch of Governments paper ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ was made on 23rd November and is available to download from
Related Links on TCM
TCM Group can be found at
For Press and Media enquiries, please contact Panos Papakostis on 020-7404-3195, Email:  

1 comment:

  1. Ask them if they would be willing to discuss it further and provide you with particulars relating to the state of affairs.